On to November for Davis
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, easily defeated two challengers Tuesday in the Republican Party primary in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District.
Davis got about 53 percent of the vote in the sprawling district to 40 percent for Urbana attorney Erika Harold and 7 percent for Michael Firsching, a veterinarian from Moro in Madison County.
“I look forward to taking the positive messages that those two opponents gave to us throughout the campaign,” he said.
And he said he was “looking forward” to running against Democrat Ann Callis of Edwardsville in November.
“I look forward to having the distinct differences between the Republican vision for America and the Democrat vision for America,” he said, “and I look forward to talking about those differences over the next 7 1/2 months.”
Davis finished first Tuesday without winning Champaign County, the county with the largest voting bloc among the 14 counties in the district that arcs from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast to Collinsville and Edwardsville in Madison County on the southwest.
As was the case in the 2012 general election, Davis finished second in a three-way race in Champaign County, with just 28 percent to Harold’s 70 percent.
In November 2012, he lost Champaign County by more than 11,000 votes to Democrat David Gill, a Bloomington physician. Independent candidate John Hartman was a distant third. But Davis won districtwide by 1,002 votes.
Tuesday’s was the first-ever primary election victory for Davis. He got the Republican nomination in 2012 by virtue of a vote, closed to the public, of the 14 county chairmen in the district, following a sudden decision by U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, not to seek re-election.
One of his opponents in that closed contest was Harold.
She said last summer that the selection process by the GOP county chairmen “was fair last time. It was a process that had to be. But I think everyone at the time acknowledged that it would be best if the voters themselves were deciding.”
She said she wanted to give all the Republican voters in the district the opportunity to make the choice this time.
“I called Rep. Davis to congratulate him on his victory, and I feel very good about the race that I ran and have no regrets,” Harold said late Tuesday night.
She said she planned to remain in Champaign-Urbana.
“I will continue the full-time practice of law at Meyer Capel,” she said of the Champaign law firm she joined last summer.
As for politics, she said, “I have not begin to even contemplate that. The only thing I’m contemplating is the prospect of being able to get more sleep.”
“I have no idea what my political future would hold. My immediate plans are just to continue practicing law at Meyer Capel and to stay involved with some of the civic groups that I’m involved with, particularly Prison Fellowship, and to try to continue to make an impact in the Champaign-Urbana community,” Harold said.
She said it was “very important” to make the congratulatory call to Davis on Tuesday night.
“My goal was to run a positive campaign, and I wanted to end it in a positive way as well,” she said.
Leading up to Tuesday’s primary, Davis collected the endorsements of many of the top Republicans in the state, including U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, plus many of his U.S. House colleagues.
He also had a huge fundraising advantage over Harold and Firsching. As of Feb. 26, Davis had $1.114 million in his campaign account to $137,188 for Harold and less than $5,000 for Firsching.
Firsching was running in the 13th District for the second consecutive time. In the 2012 Republican primary, he got 6,706 votes, or about 13 percent, in the three-way race that Johnson won with 68.66 percent.
Asked if he’s in a stronger position as an incumbent than two years ago, Davis said. “I think clearly we’ve got a record of success, whether it’s working with the University of Illinois to ensure that our land grant universities were part of the Farm Bill, and working with our local leaders in Champaign and Urbana to talk more about investing in infrastructure.”
He said he expected “a very vigorous debate” over the Affordable Care Act.
“There are those who want to dig their heels in and try to defend this obvious disaster,” he said. “I think I’ve been very clear where I stand. I want to continue to repeal and replace this bill and put forth a commonsense solution that’s going to allow Americans to get the affordable care they were promised and get the access they were promised, which Obamacare clearly is not doing.”
He also said he thinks even more money will be spent in the general election campaign this year than in 2012 when more than $9.53 million was spent by the three candidates and independent groups in the 13th District.
“It’s a 50-50 district, and we only had a 5 1/2-month campaign the last time,” Davis said. “This is what being in a 50-50 district is all about.”